The Vine: September 18, 2007
"Will It Float?"
Oh goddess of all things baseball, can you explain this to me at all? I see this "magic number" posted around Chicago (Cubs fans — can't live with 'em…) but I don't understand the process.
See, it's the number of games…okay, if the team wins a certain number of…hmm. Towards the end of the season, with the remaining…well, shit. I don't exactly know. I mean, I know, but I can't really explain it. I think it's the number of games the first-place team has to win before the end of the season in order to clinch the division, but let me check.
…Ah, yes. Almost. From The New Dickson Baseball Dictionary, a very handy tome:
The combination of wins and losses that add up to a championship for a first-place team; specif., the total number of games that the leading team in a division or league must win and/or the second-place team must lose to clinch the championship for the leader. If, for example, the Phillies [sic, on both the incorrect possessive and the example used -- heh] magic number is six with the Mets in second place, any combination of Phillies wins and Mets losses [sic? ...whatever] adding up to six gives the championship to the Phillies.
As of this writing, the Cubbies' magic number is 12 — so if the Cubs win 7 and the Brewers lose 5, that makes 12, and a Cubs' division title.
And speaking of the NL Central — I heard on ESPN Radio today (…shut up) that the Cardinals have lost, what, 10 of their last 12? And the latest loss was the 27th time this season their pitchers have given up 10 runs or more? That division is the damnedest thing this year: the Brewers start off like the '27 Yankees and now even the '07 Yanks have had a better second half, the Reds looked like some trouble in the spring but did nothing, and Houston's bringing up the rear? And it's a fairly long rear, too; I didn't think that team was that bad.
Weird season in that regard, I feel like — a bunch of teams that looked good in May went tits up, and a bunch we thought were out crawled back in (although the Yankees are just going to get sent home in three by the Angels, so I'm not sure why we're bothering with the games, frankly). What a game.
Anyway. I've left the comments open, so people can work through some grief if necessary.